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This doesn’t really tell us one way or another about the merits of what Joe Biden is currently doing or even what he’s doing — negotiating or not. But it’s a key part of this debt ceiling hostage drama that gets way too little attention: Kevin McCarthy isn’t able to negotiate on behalf of the people who run the GOP caucus, namely the House Freedom Caucus. Let’s say Joe Biden negotiates a deal with Kevin McCarthy. That will almost certainly lead to a follow-on stand off in which Freedom Caucus members make further demands which McCarthy has to accede to. I could play this out in 20 different ways. But you get the idea. It also matters since there’s not really time for that further drama before you hit the final cliff. McCarthy is not really operating as the leader of the House but rather the stalking horse of the House Freedom Caucus.

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